Huge Win for Customers as Preferred Bidder Announced for CBD and South East Light Rail Project

Posted: October 23, 2014

Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian today announced light rail would have 50 per cent more capacity than the 9,000 passengers per hour previously planned, after a preferred bidder was selected to deliver and operate Sydney’s new CBD and South East Light Rail project.

Ms Berejiklian said the news was a huge win for customers, with the NSW Government future-proofing the light rail network for decades to come, to cater for Sydney’s future economic and population growth. The preferred bidder has also proposed reducing the expected length of time of construction along George Street, with extra support staff on the ground, importantly helping to minimise disruption to the community. “The NSW Government is getting on with the job of building a new light rail network for Sydney and delivering major improvements to public transport,” Ms Berejiklian said. The Connecting Sydney consortium, consisting of Transdev Sydney, Alstom Transport Australia, Acciona Infrastructure Australia and Capella Capital, has late today been advised that it is the preferred bidder to deliver and operate the project.

“The preferred bidder’s proposal offers an innovative, world class solution that will deliver a huge win for public transport customers, with reduced crowding on the light rail service and more capacity to cater for future demand,” Ms Berejiklian said. “The proposal offers services that from day one carry up to 15 per cent more light rail passengers in peak hours, and 33 per cent more seats across the day. “As I have said previously, the biggest challenge for this project is meeting the high demand from customers who are expected to choose light rail over buses, private vehicles and other transport options. “The preferred bidder has responded to this challenge with a proposal that ultimately has the potential to carry over 50 per cent more than the 9,000 passengers per hour in each direction previously announced by the government. “As a result of these wins for customers, this will mean an increase in the overall budget of the project, and the NSW Government will now work with the Connecting Sydney consortium over the coming weeks to finalise this major contract.”The NSW Government has always said that construction of the CBD and South East Light Rail in such a busy environment will be extremely challenging and will result in some impacts along the route. Connecting Sydney has responded to this, entering a bid with an earlier end date than expected for construction along George Street, a reduced impact on the community during construction.

The preferred team has also proposed using extra construction support staff on the ground, to better manage impacts in the CBD, meaning less disruption for motorists, businesses and CBD workers. The detailed construction program is now subject to further commercial negotiations and once agreed, the project team will ensure communities are well informed along the route. Ms Berejiklian said the extra capacity has been even more important, since the opening of the Inner West Light Rail extension in March this year. “The Inner West Light Rail extension has proven extremely popular from day one. There have been over 2.3 million trips made on the Inner West Light Rail since the extension opened, a 21 per cent increase compared to last year,” she said. “We have seen how popular the Inner West Light Rail extension has been and have decided to deliver additional capacity on the CBD and South East Light Rail to ensure we future-proof the system.” Ms Berejiklian said the CBD and South East Light Rail is expected to generate over $4 billion in economic benefits to NSW. It will help remove up to 220 buses an hour from CBD streets. “Light rail has been selected as the best value for money solution to the crippling congestion reducing Sydney’s productivity which currently costs the NSW economy around $5.1 billion per year and is expected to rise to $8.8 billion by 2021,” she said.

Further detail on the successful tender will be released when the contract is awarded by the end of the year. The NSW Government will set light rail fares and enforce financial penalties if the operator does not meet the customer service standards set out in the contract. These will include running services on time and making sure the vehicles are clean. As with other major projects including the North West Rail Link, the design of the CBD and South East Light Rail has evolved during its planning process and the preferred bidder may require some modifications to the project, which are also expected to be announced before the end of 2014.

For more information on the project: http://www.sydneylightrail.transport.nsw.gov.au/